By Natalie Duddridge, John Dias
Updated on: September 15, 2022 / 5:28 PM / CBS New York
NEW YORK — The funeral for Anthony Varvaro, a Port Authority police officer and retired Major League Baseball player, was held Thursday in Staten Island.
Hundreds of officers lined Victory Boulevard outside Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Thompkinsville, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.
“Today, we’re honoring one of our heroes. Anthony had a tremendous life,” said Edward Cetnar, of the Port Authority Police Department.
Varvaro, 37, died in a crash on his way to a Sept. 11 commemoration ceremony.
During the Mass, Varvaro was remembered as “a family man and role model,” in addition to his numerous career accomplishments.
“We are just heartbroken,” said Andrew Piana of West Brighton.
Varvaro was involved in a wrong-way crash on the New Jersey Turnpike while driving to a ceremony at the World Trade Center on Sunday.
“He volunteered that day to come into work, to work security detail at the World Trade Center on the anniversary. So it just shows you what type of person he was,” said Cetnar.
Varvaro, who grew up in Staten Island, played at Curtis High School and St. John’s University. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2005.
Varvaro pitched for Seattle, Atlanta and Boston over his six-year career as a reliever. Later, he was a coach and president of Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Little League.
Friends said the events of Sept. 11, 2001 inspired Varvaro to eventually pursue a career in law enforcement.
“His story is amazing. He’s established as a well-known Major League Baseball player and then gives that up for a life of public service,” said Lieutenant Frank Tracy, from the Fairfield Township Police Department.
Friends said Varvaro voluntarily retired from baseball in 2016 to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer and work for the Port Authority.
“He was entertaining everybody on a baseball field, and instead he decided to take care of people,” said Sergeant Chris Niemiec, from the Fairfield Township Police Department.
Loved ones said Varvaro also wanted to be closer to his wife and children.
“He has a beautiful family, he’s raising four children with his wonderful wife Kerry, and they have the love and support of the neighborhood,” said Piana.
“My heart goes out to them. We all pray for the family. They had a great father who was a great man,” said Detective Nicholas Cocchi, from the Fairfield Township Police Department.
After the service, a motorcade led Varvaro’s casket to his final resting place at St. Peter’s Cemetery in West Brighton.
Natalie Duddridge is an award-winning journalist. She joined CBS2 News as a reporter in February 2018.
First published on September 15, 2022 / 5:39 AM
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